Campaign Finance Database & Guidance

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Campaign Contribution Limits

Cook County Code of Ordinances Section 2-585

The Cook County Ethics Ordinance limits campaign contributions, or the total amount of funds a prohibited source can donate to support the campaign for candidates running for County office. 

Prohibited Sources include: 

  1. Anyone who does or has done a significant amount of business with the County ($10,000 or more) during the preceding four years 

  2. Lobbyists registered to lobby Cook County 

  3. Individuals seeking official action from the county, a candidate or elected official. Seeking official action means a non-ministerial act, including entities that seek property tax relief for their clients through reassessments from the Cook County Assessor’s Office. 

The contribution limit is $1,500.00 in a calendar year to any current County official and any candidate for County office.  

  • This includes contributions to any associated local, state or federal political committees that are established in support of a specific candidate for County office.  
  • A calendar year is January 1 to December 31. 

It is the candidate's responsibility to comply with campaign contribution limits.

No "Pay to Play"

Contribution limitations are intended to safeguard against quid pro quo corruption or “pay to play” arrangements where a contributor makes a donation in exchange for the opportunity to do business with the County or obtain other favorable official action. Remember that even lawful political contributions to County officials and candidates for County office are never a prerequisite to doing or continuing to do business with the County. 

Auditing Process of Campaign Contributions 

The Board of Ethics audits campaign contributions to affirm that they are within the limits established in Section 2-585. The procedure is as follows:  

  1. Board staff audits public campaign contribution disclosure records from the Illinois State Board of Elections to determine whether contributions to candidates for County office and County Elected Officials are in compliance with Cook County's campaign contribution limits.   
  2. If, based on the audit, the Board staff determines the contributor has exceeded the limitations, the Board will send a formal notice to the campaign committee and contributor.  
  3. The Board staff may also reach out to obtain additional information from the contributor and/or campaign as they review contributions.  
  4. If the Board staff find that a contribution is over the limit, individual contributors and/or campaign committees have the opportunity to respond to demonstrate that (1) the Board’s determination is incorrect; or (2) the contributor has complied with the Ethics Ordinance by obtaining reimbursement of the excessive contribution. The Board will determine if the response is sufficient in affirming compliance.  

Failure to respond will result in a referral to the Board for further action. Any candidate for any County office or any current elected official in Cook County government shall return contributions found in excess of the limitations set forth in this section within 30 days of notification from the Board of Ethics. Failure to return contributions within 30 days shall be a violation of this section and subject to fines under Section 2-602.

Doing Business Database 

Done business or Doing business means any one or any combination of sales, purchases, leases or contracts to, from or with the County or any County agency in excess of $10,000 during the previous four years.   

Seeking to do business means taking action within the past six months to obtain a contract or business with the County when, if such action were successful, it would result in the person doing business with the County. This includes responding to a request for qualifications (RFQ), joining a pool of pre-qualified vendors or any similar procurement vehicle. The presumption that such a person is seeking to do business will last for the same duration as any RFQ, pre-qualified pool or similar procurement vehicle remains valid for all qualified respondents. 

The Board of Ethics uses several sources when we conduct our Campaign Contribution Reviews, including the Report - Seeking Official Action data and Campaign Contributions - Restricted Contractors database. Candidates can use these sources to self-audit contributions received. 

Report - Seeking Official Action 

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